Roseanne Barr is a national headline. She has a history of obnoxious public behavior, and somehow managed to land on her feet. This time, she tweeted a blatantly racist comment and her show was cancelled. Roseanne can’t be both an outspoken racist and a star on a major network. But strangely, she could be our president.
Since the beginning of his campaign, Donald Trump crashed into the spotlight as a role model for rage and hatred. He didn’t plant bigotry in the United States — not even the leader of the free world has that much influence. Those beliefs already existed, waiting to be tapped. When he legitimized rage and hatred, The Beast lying dormant in our country took its first tentative steps, then broke into a gallop.
Bigotry is running rampant, and Roseanne is a part of an ongoing problem. To worsen the impact, Barr posted her tweet just after Memorial Day. On the surface, the timing seems unimportant. But it is.
My father fought in World War II and died decades later, of natural causes. If he were alive today, he’d march for our lives and kneel with Colin Kaepernick. He’d stand with the LGBTQ+ community and Time’s Up. He’d raise his voice for the free press and immigrants. He’d encourage young adults to vote. He’d write to support #BlackLivesMatter. Those are the values he fought to protect and preserve. Every Memorial Day, Dad spoke to me about his friends who died in combat, and he would have experienced Roseanne Barr’s tweet as an insult to their memory.
The tally of innocent victims caught in the Trump-era-crossfire is already astronomical. Many people aside from Roseanne Barr worked on her show, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. They’re all out of a job. On a much larger scale, President Trump’s legacy will leave millions of lives shredded. My father fought for a world where Roseanne Barr’s tweet would never have happened, where Donald Trump never would have been elected, where our nation would hold our truths to be self-evident.
When I was around 5 years old, I asked my father — an author and a screenwriter — why he wrote all the time. He said he felt a push to write, an insatiable need. I asked what insatiable meant, and he said he was always hungry to write more. At the time, I offered him a bite of my snack (a carrot); years later, I understood. Each article or book or script felt like his first, and when it became his next, he felt a magnetic pull to begin a new first.
I miss you, Dad, and I always think of you and your friends on Memorial Day. The country you fought for has dug itself into a deep cluster-mess. Too many are suffering. At the same time, a growing number work and write and march and speak to get us back on track — a diverse group spanning broad demographics, offering an enormous spectrum of talent. Eventually, we’ll come out of this terrible time, and begin the long process of healing — a series of first steps, followed by next steps. So Dad, you can rest in peace. You did your part, a new team has formed, and I stand with them.
This is my first next piece.
Amy Kaufman Burk is a therapist-turned-author. Her first novel, Hollywood High: Achieve The Honorable, was written in reaction to seeing gay students bullied in high school. The story follows Caroline Black through tenth grade, as her new high school opens her world. Tightwire, Amy’s second novel, continues to follow Caroline, this time as a rookie psych intern treating her first patient — a stormy, brilliant, troubled young man who ran away from the circus to find himself. Amy’s blog includes posts about gender equality, LGBTQ+ ally support, #NeverAgain, racial equality and parenting. Amy collaborates with educators who include her books and essays in their classrooms.
Amy’s Author Page — check out her novels.